Hearing problems such as hearing loss, tinnitus, hyperacusis, and more can make our daily lives a challenge and rob of us the simplest of joys. A conversation. Your favorite record. That new TV show everyone is talking about. And while hearing problems can arise from a variety of sources, such as repeated exposure to loud noises or age-related hearing loss, many may not realize that the design of your home is negatively impacting your hearing health.
Over time, poor acoustics in your home can have an adverse effect on your hearing. When you’re constantly straining to pick up on a conversation or a television show, this can put undue stress on your entire auditory system. This is a particular challenge for those already experiencing some form of hearing loss. Here, we’re taking a closer look at one aspect of interior design that most people may never even consider—how the acoustic features of your space can actually impact your hearing.
Can the Design of Your Home Affect Your Hearing?
Believe it or not, but yes, the design and the materials in your home can make a major impact on the quality of your hearing—not to mention the general acoustics in your space. When we’re in a space with poor acoustics, it makes it that much more of a challenge to accurately hear anything. Whether that be a television show or a conversation, poor acoustics forces us to strain our hearing more to accurately pick up the sound. Over time, this strain can harm your hearing health.
When sounds bounce off of hard surfaces, such as a bare wall or tile floor, this causes reverberation. This occurs when the sound waves bounce from a surface and then reverberate back into your space. The action “muddies up” the sound waves and leads to poor acoustics. You’ve probably experienced this in a crowded room with the TV on while people are also trying to hold a conversation. Too many sound waves from different points create a conflict of sound waves that makes it harder to pick up on either. When you constantly have to strain to pick up on sounds, you’re overworking your auditory system, which in time, may negatively impact the hearing health for some individuals.
What Causes Poor Acoustics?
Many different features may lead to poor acoustics in your home. It may be just one or a combination of several to create a place that does not allow for quality acoustics.
Poor acoustics can be caused by the following:
- High ceilings
- Bare walls
- Hard surfaces (like hardwood floors)
- Multiple noise surfaces (for example a room with a stereo and a television in opposing corners)
Are There Any Solutions to Improve the Acoustics in Your Home?
Luckily, there are many ways that you can work to improve the acoustics in your home. No, you don’t have to remodel entirely, knock out a wall, or add another window. In fact, there are many simple (and affordable) ways to improve the acoustics in your home that can not only protect your hearing but also make your space look great.
Looking to improve the acoustics in your home? Try these tips:
- Felt tiles: many homeowners are using felt wall tiles for their walls to help control unwanted noise in their spaces. At first, felt may not seem like the most obvious choice to decorate your walls. But PET felt has a sound-dampening property that can absorb excess sound waves to help improve the acoustics in your space. As a result, you’ll also have better sound quality throughout your space. Not only do they improve the sound in your space, but the felt tiles in a wide array of colors, designs, and patterns so that they’ll match perfectly with your taste.
- Add more furniture to your space: you don’t necessarily need to clutter your area, but adding another piece of furniture can be a quick fix when it comes to improving your acoustics. This rule is especially true when you’re adding pieces with soft materials, such as a couch. The furniture can help to absorb incoming sound waves, and depending on how you arrange your furniture, can also influence the flow of sound in your space.
- Install carpet for flooring: the floors in your space also impact your acoustics. Remember, any hard surface will reflect more incoming sound waves, thus, creating more ambient noise—this includes your floors. Instead of hardwood or tile, consider installing carpet in some spaces in your home. The carpet more effectively absorbs sound waves, and thus, can improve your overall acoustics.
- Cover your windows: drawing a simple curtain or blind can also help to control the acoustics in your space. Even a thin curtain can absorb more sound waves than a bare window.
Conclusion – Can the Design of Your Home Affect Your Hearing?
When designing your interior space, most of us tend to approach this task from a visual focus. How does my furniture layout work? What color palettes am I using? How does the overall aesthetic speak to my personal tastes? Of course, colors and patterns, and layouts are important. But have you ever stopped to think about how your interior space sounds?
Frankly, most of us haven’t. But according to more and more research, the acoustics in our homes plays an important role in our daily lives. Poor acoustics, over time, can negatively impact your hearing health. With echoes and reverberations, you have to work much harder to hear, straining your entire auditory system.
But luckily, there are many ways to improve the acoustics in your space to protect your hearing. Add more furniture to your space to absorb sound waves, add rugs or carpets for flooring, and consider adding some innovative felt wall tiles to your space. These felt tiles can absorb a percentage of incoming sound waves to improve the sound quality of any room in your home. Now, doesn’t that sound nice?
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